International Studies & Programs

Business and sustainability connections

My time in Spain and Portugal expanded my global mindset, especially related to sustainability.

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Published: Thursday, 25 Apr 2024 Author: Lillia Patrick

Lillia on a beach in EuropeSocietal culture is influenced by communal experiences, beliefs, customs, and the approximate location of a group. Despite the melting pot of cultures within the United States, it is difficult to comprehend the lifestyle of other countries without direct exposure. Thus, my time in Spain and Portugal expanded my global mindset, especially related to sustainability. The program highlighted the invaluable importance of exposing oneself to other cultures and the impact it can have on academic and personal perspectives.

As an environmental engineering student, I have learned about the various ways sustainability can be integrated into business practices. My time abroad allowed me to see the feasibility of these practices and expand my understanding of environmentalism. A display of this occurred through a visit in Spain to the Iberian Ham Farm. While at the farm, our group was able to witness an expansive, melancholic pasture. The sun was out, and the field was brimming with flowers, trees, insects, and most importantly, pigs. I was surprised at the peacefulness of the farm, despite knowing its purpose and the eventual fate of the pigs there. The company visit emphasized the care given to livestock in Spain and the work that goes into producing high-quality meat. It also highlighted how sustainable and humane practices are essential for successful outcomes. Similarly, sustainability was emphasized when visiting the renewable energy company Endesa. A three-hour bus ride led us to a large expanse of land lined with windmills. We learned of the importance of renewable practices, and the leading role wind energy plays in Spain’s electricity sector. Again, a connection could be seen between business success and sustainability.

Not only was this seen in Spain, but green initiatives could also be seen with the group visit to the Eco-Boutique Hotel Arelas de Seixo in Portugal. There, we had the opportunity to witness how the hotel utilized its natural resources to function. While it was an upscale, luxury environment, there was a plethora of ecologically conscious features such as up-cycled furniture, solar panels, native vegetation, and organic gardening areas. As opposed to interfering with the terrain, the hotel strived to coexist and improve its surroundings.

Overall, my study abroad broadened my academic and personal mindset. It provided me with a multitude of ways environmentalism can be integrated into every facet of life. Each visit taught me the impact sustainable practices can have, and how heavily intertwined they are within the cultures of Spain and Portugal.

Name: Lillia Patrick
Status: Senior
Major: Environmental Engineering
Hometown: Troy, Michigan
Program: Business and Culture in Spain and Portugal